The academic year 1996-97 was designated as a special emphasis year in Al-
gebraic Topology at Northwestern University. In addition to visitors and special
courses, an international conference entitled "Current trends in algebraic topology
with applications to algebraic geometry and physics" was held during the period
March 23-27. A series of plenary lectures, listed on the following page, indicates
the great breadth of the conference and the attempt made to promote interaction
between various areas of mathematics. We gratefully acknowledge the generous
support provided by the National Science Foundation and Northwestern Univer-
sity. Approximately 120 mathematicians participated in the conference.
Conference participants were invited to submit original research papers related
to the theme of the conference. All submissions were refereed to usual journal
standards. One special feature is the paper prepared by Charles Rezk which covers
the topics of his emphasis year course. A set of problems presented at a special
problem session is given at the end of the volume. We thank Ran Levi, who
generously agreed to conduct this session and collect the problems.
Finally, we thank Ms. Melanie Rubin for her editorial support in preparing this
volume and for her many hours of assistance in arranging the conference.